The 2014 UTMB Health School of Health Professions’ (SHP) Causeway FunD Run/Walk held March 8th and sponsored in part by Bay Group Media, Inc. was a huge success. Under cloudy skies, 700 runners and walkers had the unique experience of heading north on the southbound outside lanes of the bridge. Participants had a rare opportunity, at the turnaround point at the summit of the causeway, to have a grand view of Galveston Island, the bay and the Gulf of Mexico. As Dr. Elizabeth Protas, Vice President and Dean of SHP, put it “Many of us were compelled to stop and take a photo op when we got to the top. It did not help our chip times, but it sure was a special Texas experience.” The event featured a 1K for kids, a 5K wheelchair race and certified 5K for runners and walkers.
Revived in 2013 after a 15 year hiatus, the Causeway FunD Run/Walk is the premiere fundraiser of student scholarships for the school. The UTMB SHP is dedicated to educating health professions students to meet the health care needs of a growing state by preparing competent professionals to assume and direct support roles in the provision of health services. These Respiratory Therapists, Clinical Laboratory Scientists, Nutritionists, Physician Assistants, and Occupational and Physical Therapists will help to solve medical care distribution, access and cost problems. “Scholarships are competitive awards that help us recruit and recognize our best students and ensure that financial concerns are no impediment to students’ educational ambitions. They are an incentive for achievement, inspiring each of our students to strive for the highest standards of academic success.” says Dean Protas.
Expanding upon the success of last year’s event, the planning committee intensified its marketing efforts, added a “Kid’s Zone” to make the event attractive to families and awarded teams with “Most Spirited” and “Largest Team” honors. Aaron Gray of Galveston was the overall male winner with a chip time of 18:27.24 minutes and Angela Vizzeri of League City took the top honor in the female group with a 19:38.00 minute chip time.
Bennie Perez of Pearland was the winner of the 5K Wheelchair race with a finish time of 35:38.76 minutes. Vaughn Construction, headquartered in Houston, with offices around the state including Galveston, took home the “Largest Team” award with 38 participants. Vaughn was one of 36 teams participating in this year’s run/walk. One of the most special moments came at the end of the awards presentation, when the “Most Spirited” award was given to the team formed in memory of John Moises Ponce.
John participated in the 2013 race and placed third in the 14 – 19 age group. He ran with family members and was thrilled that he had placed and received an award. Tragically, John passed away last fall. To celebrate his life and to commemorate his joy in placing in the run, his mother, Judith Briggs, organized a large team of his family and friends.
With the ladies of the team sporting tutus and his mom wearing his medal from last year and carrying a poster featuring her son and his win, John’s presence was felt by all. Even in death, as an organ donor, John was able to save the lives of 4 other people and was able to contribute to research by donating his lungs. Ms. Briggs was overwhelmed and proud of the award and the recognition of her son’s life.
For more information, please go to http://shp.utmb.edu/fundrun/ or call the SHP Causeway FunD Run hotline at 409/772-3006.